5 WWE Superstars who were promoted from NXT too soon
Since WWE's developmental brand was rebranded iXT back in 2012, the black and gold brand has been a great feeder for the company's main roster. A huge percentage of the talent on the main roster at present came through the ranks in NXT.
While the likes of Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Big E, Kevin Owens, and even Charlotte Flair came through NXT before going on to be successful stars on the main roster, this isn't the case for every former star.
WWE has pulled the trigger on several call-ups much sooner than they should have, which has led to many stars being sent back to developmental or even being released from the company.
The following list looks at just five WWE Superstars who were promoted from NXT too soon.
#5. Current WWE Superstar Mia Yim/Reckoning
Plans for the members of Retribution when they were being called up to the main roster seemed interesting on paper until the group was brought to live TV.
While Mercedes Martinez decided to leave the group last year, Mia Yim has remained a member of the team and is now the only female star. Yim has been part of the business outside of WWE for several years with some of her best moments coming back when she was part of IMPACT Wrestling.
Yim made her wrestling debut in 2009 but didn't officially sign for WWE until 2018. She only had a small stint in NXT before being called up to the main roster last year. The role that Yim has been given in Retribution doesn't allow her to use any of her strengths or even portray the character that she has created throughout her time in the ring.
The former NXT star would have benefitted from being pushed towards the NXT Women's Championship before coming up to the main roster. She could have then been promoted as Yim instead of Reckoning. At present, her talent is being wasted in Retribution since the group has no female opponents, so she hasn't even wrestled a handful of matches on the main roster since her debut.
#4. Current WWE NXT Superstar Austin Theory
Austin Theory came to WWE through the company's connection with Evolve, where he was a former world champion. Theory wrestled several matches for developmental before he was called up to the main roster and was aligned with Zelina Vega.
After failing to get along with Andrade and Angel Garza, Theory was kicked out of the group and was later recruited by Seth Rollins where he became one of his disciples. Of course, the WWE Universe will be aware that this was a union that didn't last very long. Theory was named as one of the stars in the #SpeakingOut movement and was then taken off WWE TV.
There was no update on Theory or a reason given as to why he had been taken off TV. He later resurfaced back in NXT. It appears that it was too soon for the star to be promoted and since his return to NXT, he has found his feet with Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae as part of The Way.
#3. Former WWE Superstar Lars Sullivan
Lars Sullivan was promoted to WWE's main roster alongside the likes of Nikki Cross, Lacey Evans, EC3, and Heavy Machinery. While the other stars who were called up at the time went on to make their debuts, Sullivan was struggling with some personal issues and was unable to make his debut until several months later.
Sullivan only wrestled a handful of matches on the main roster throughout 2020 and 2021 before he was released from the company. His booking was also quite bizarre, perhaps never more-so than his sitdown interview with Michael Cole.
It's obvious that WWE had no idea what they were doing with the former NXT star throughout his time on the main roster and it could even be argued that if he had remained in NXT he would still be part of the company.
#2. Current WWE Superstar Nia Jax
Nia Jax has found her feet on the main roster in recent years as a former WWE Women's Champion and current Women's Tag Team Champion. That being said, it took a while for the star to truly take off after she was promoted to the main roster as part of the brand split back in 2016.
While the likes of Alexa Bliss and Carmella hit the ground running following their promotion, Jax had several struggles since she lacked in-ring skill and mic ability when she was first called up.
Jax could have benefitted from more time in NXT to polish up on these parts of her character, and it could have meant that she wouldn't have been given such a negative reception from the WWE Universe when she made her debut.
Jax hasn't been a popular star throughout her main roster career given that she's been linked to botches and injuries to other women, but it could be argued that a longer spell in NXT could have helped Jax to iron out these issues much earlier on.
#1. Current WWE Superstar Lacey Evans
Lacey Evans was recently forced to take leave from WWE programming after announcing that she was pregnant with her second child. The former NXT star was promoted alongside the likes of Lars Sullivan and Nikki Cross back in January 2019, making her debut on RAW.
Evans was one of the stars that WWE looked to push right away but it was clear that she wasn't ready for the spotlight. The "Sassy Southern Belle" began the 2019 Royal Rumble match alongside Natalya and botched several moves throughout the match, further proving that she wasn't ready for her push.
Luckily, in the years that have followed, Evans has been able to find her feet on both RAW and SmackDown and was finally set to win the RAW Women's Championship last month before she was forced to the sidelines.
Hopefully, when Evans makes her return to the company, she will be able to pick up where she left off in her feud with Charlotte Flair earlier this year.